Sally Berry is a tourism industry expert who helps Destination Marketing Organizations prepare their destinations to be more competitive and attractions bring in more visitors.
Sally has worked at a small family-owned attraction, a regional DMO and at the Corning Museum of Glass, a world-class museum in New York. She has spent time as a tour operator and also an adjunct college professor at Paul Smiths Travel and Tourism program. She now runs her own tourism consulting and training company.
Sally was named one of the Top Ten Most Influential Women in the Group Tour industry from Groups Today magazine, May 2016, and a Top 20 Tourism Professional in the U.S. by TourOperator.com, 2015. She served as a board member of the U.S. Travel’s Experience Network, formerly known as the Attractions Council.
On this episode of Destination on the Left, Sally and I talk about the opportunities and challenges in the international tour group space, especially the China market. Her experience gives her insight into not only the growing market in Chinese tour groups and FITs but how to nurture relationships with tour operators and guides. She also offers some great tips on using relationship-building tools and social media to connect with these markets.
It’s tempting to just cast your nets wide and hope to catch a lot of travelers to your destination. But Sally encourages attractions and destinations to use the 80/20 rule. Find out who your top market segments or top repeat tour clients are, and focus 80 percent marketing time and energy on those groups.
Narrowing your focus will sharpen your message and deepen your relationships with those groups. Sally has found that narrowing your focus actually increases traffic and dollars to your destination.
You might not think the market for Chinese tour groups is a good fit for your location. In the past, if you were beyond the “golden triangles” in the northeastern US or California in the west, the China market was a long shot. But Sally is seeing that change as more Chinese people look to travel and expand beyond those traditional areas of interest.
Sally and I discuss a hugely popular Chinese social networking platform called WeChat, a huge tool for understanding and interacting with people and groups in the China market.
There is a lot more great food for thought in this conversation. Sally suggests finding partners in the destinations guests are coming from and going to when they visit your attraction. But, also looking for partnerships with groups you might not think of at first. There is a world of co-opetition out there to explore and make use of.
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